Ask Cool Daddy
Dear Cool Daddy: I read on the net where there are 13 Major League pitchers with career Earned Run Averages of infinity. It hardly seems likely any of them could have hung around The Show long enough to amass that many earned runs. What gives? …from Saduhara O’Reilly, Rehoboth Beach
Dear S.O’R.: At right you see the formula for ERA, along with Don Mossi, the legendary taxi driving down the street with its doors open. And no, he isn’t one of the infinity boys…but you just can’t beat that moosh, eh? The thing is, baseball tracks a pitcher’s performance in a unique way: innings are broken down into thirds, one third for each out. Get one batter out, you’ve pitched a third of an inning…2 out, 2 thirds…3 outs, a full inning goes in the books. If you get nobody out, you are credited with 0 innings pitched…thus you can have a career line of 1 G, 0 IN, strange as that sounds. And they denote these fractional innings as .1 and .2, altho for when used in a calculation, they are taken to be .33333 and .66667 respectively, natch.
But here’s the problem: if you plug 0 in for IP in the formula, you are dividing by 0, which in mathematics is impossible, what they call “undefined.” Try dividing by 0 on a calculator and you’ll get ERROR for an answer, so there. Thus, for the purposes of statistics, baseball has arbitrarily defined the ERA of someone who has no innings pitched as “infinity.” And no, it isn’t really infinity…it’s really nothing at all, no possible number, but they have to have something to put in the ERA column. They used to put simply a “-“.
I don’t believe there is any other sport where the stat of ∞ is possible, and I do have an alternate proposal. I suggest crediting a pitcher who gets nobody out with half an out, which would translate to 1/6 of an inning or .16667. It would only impact a handful of the thousands who’ve played the game, so big deal. But for example, a pitcher with 0 innings and 7 earned runs would see his ERA drop from ∞ to a mere 379.992. …sounds like Comeback Player of the Year material to me.
Dear Cool Daddy: How long has the Robinson family been “Lost in Space”? Didn’t the Jupiter II take off sometime before the year 2000? And while I’m thinking of it, why didn’t the Robot ever have a real name? …from Faye in Sante Fe
Dear Faye: Good catch, Space Cadet. They blasted off for Alpha Centauri on October 16th, 1997…which back in the Fall of 1965 must have seemed like forever and a day away…so they’re coming up on their 14th anniversary. And of course, having to put up with Dr. Smith for all that time, they’ve all gone completely insane, poor souls…
As for the Robot, you’re right, he never had an actual name. Series creator Irwin Allen reportedly nicknamed him Rodney, but that never made it onto the show. There were several near-misses, however…in the episode called “Time Merchant,” the Robot’s shipping crate is stamped “General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot” which suggests GUNTER. And during the second season, it referred to itself as a “General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot.” At other times, it called itself “Robot Model B9” and “a Robot of the class M3.” But as to the lack of a true moniker, I have a theory.
Take a look at this promo short Black & White. Notice anything missing? No Dr. Smith, no Robot. After the first pilot was filmed, CBS suggested they be added. But notice that the announcer says the show is aimed at the entire family, all age groups, even grown-ups…and you may recall that the first season was decidedly more “serious” than the 2nd and 3rd. By the 2nd season, they were in eye-popping color, and scheduled opposite Batman no less, prompting a turn towards more campy, some would say silly, exploits. I think the Robot had no name because in keeping with the more techno-scientific tone of that first season, it was considered to be merely a piece of equipment, with no need to anthropomorphize it with a cutesy name. That’s my educated guess, anyway. And that’s one shark that, whatever the reason, Irwin Allen managed to leave unjumped.
Notice the boy’s face? Is that a radiation burn or just the healthy glow of scienterrific excitement? Oddly enough, I think this probably was completely safe…there’s natural radioactivity all around us all the time, no need to panic. But you did get 4 kinds of uranium ore, plus alpha, beta, and gamma-ray emitting samples, a working geiger counter, and other nifty junk. The company that made this, Gilbert, put out an extensive line of science kits, as well as their meat and potatoes, Erector Sets. But the half-life (sorry) of this product was brief, available only for a couple of years, starting in 1951. The problem was the price, $50, an enormous amount for the time…at 3¢ a pop, you could mail 1,666 Xmas cards with that…
shameless plugs of class M7-X14-alpha-Negative…
Other Daily blog at http://stolf.wordpress.com (the legendary Stolf’s Blog)
Audio samples coming soon…or just check the podcasts…twc-rr so still giga-blows to infinity & beyond…